Designing Modern America: Broadway to Main Street

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Yale University Press, Oct 1, 2008 - Design - 336 pages
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From the 1920s through the 1950s, two individuals, Joseph Urban and Norman Bel Geddes, did more, by far, to create the image of “America” and make it synonymous with modernity than any of their contemporaries. Urban and Bel Geddes were leading Broadway stage designers and directors who turned their prodigious talents to other projects, becoming mavericks first in industrial design and then in commercial design, fashion, architecture, and more. The two men gave shape to the most quintessential symbols of the modern American lifestyle, including movies, cars, department stores, and nightclubs, along with private homes, kitchens, stoves, fridges, magazines, and numerous household furnishings.

Illustrated with more than 130 photographs of their influential designs, this book tells the engrossing story of Urban and Bel Geddes. Christopher Innes shows how these two men with a background in theater lent dramatic flair to everything they designed and how this theatricality gave the distinctive modernity they created such wide appeal. If the American lifestyle has been much imitated across the globe over the past fifty years, says Innes, it is due in large measure to the designs of Urban and Bel Geddes. Together they were responsible for creating what has been called the “Golden Age” of American culture.

 

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Contents

2 Egos at Work
17
3 Theatrical Fashions
37
4 Stage and Screen
59
5 Society Scenery
83
6 A Century of Progress
101
7 Riding into the Future
119
8 The World of Tomorrow
145
9 Car Culture
155
11 Reaching for the Sky
191
12 Suburban Heaven
213
13 Lifestyle Begins in the Kitchen
233
14 Selling Modernity
259
Then and Now
289
Notes
295
Index
312
Copyright

10 Street Scenes
171

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